I don’t know why, but I had near baseline expectations for this place. There was something about the whole “Asian tapas”, the location, the ambiance, maybe even the name, that just had me avoiding setting foot in Sintesis, José León Pagano 2689, just barely inside the Recoleta line from Palermo. I was sure it was going to be mediocre sushi and faux-Asian lounge food. And no one I know in the food biz has even mentioned the place. So I’m going to mention it here. Go there. Just, go there. This is some of the most creative, pan-Asian food that I’ve come across in this city in the decade I’ve been here. I wish they didn’t call it “Asian tapas”, I wish I liked the ambiance, and maybe even the name, just a bit more. But the service and food has been impeccable, over several visits. The only service negative – while they have a stocked bar, they don’t have a bartender, so they won’t make cocktails – very strange – but they have a good wine list, and various tea options, including iced (though I’d personally prefer iced green tea to iced jasmine tea).

Spicy salmon tartare that’s actually decently spicy, served over what amount to arancini made with sushi rice – brilliant.

Crispy fried chicken marinated in intense flavors of ginger and sesame, served with oyster sauce – a simple and punchy combo that just works – these are chicken nuggets for adults.

Slow cooked slices of pork over pickled cucumber, ladled with an absolutely bang on, intense garlic sauce that I want to know how they make, and steal it.

Pristine, perfectly cut slices of salmon sashimi, with pungent wasabi that had to have just been made within the last hour or two, and house pickled ginger that didn’t have that sweet syrupy overlay so many places have. Hidden underneath the lettuce leaf, a salad of carrots and pea shoots.

Made to order guacamole with two large chopped prawns in it, a simple idea, yet why is no one else doing that? Topped with another prawn atop, all perfectly cooked, and accompanied by, well, the one disappointment of all the dishes, commercial tortilla chips.

I’ve never seen dorayaki offered at a Japanese restaurant here, actually, in very few places anywhere that I’ve been – sweet, sponge-cake-like pancakes sandwiched around a gooey red adzuki bean filling. You can get one or two, and with or without ice cream. Yum.

But, I’ve saved the best for last. Absolutely palate awakening, beautifully made, Tonkatsu ramen. Rich, mouth coating broth, vegetables, al dente noodles, gooey-yolked egg, smoky seaweed, delicate slices of braised pork belly. To date, the best ramen I’ve had in BA (I’ve started on a bit of a ramen search, so you’ll see more coming this way), and one of the best I’ve had anywhere in years.

Relatively reasonable pricing – the various small plates run from about 50 to 100 pesos each, the ramen and other main courses were from about 110 to 140.

May I repeat… Go there. Just, go there.



MasterChef Round 5 – Don’t Mess with Culture

2015.May.19 Tuesday
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Oh, I don’t even know where to go with this one. There was so much stereotyping of cultures and foods packed into this two hour block that my head was spinning. I’m going to go mostly for pictures. We head off, once again, outside the capitol, to Pilar, a not so small town of 300,000 […]

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Plate by Plate: Puttin’ on the Blintz

2015.May.15 Friday
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Roasted Garlic Panqueque Panqueque: 170 gm semolina flour, 4 large eggs, 300 ml milk, pinch of salt, whisked together, left to hydrate for about 45 minutes, then made crepes using roughly 50ml of batter at a time. Filling: Roasted 1 head of garlic with a splash of olive oil, all wrapped in foil, until soft, […]

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MasterChef Round 4 – The Hunt is On

2015.May.14 Thursday
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Oh my god. Soup. You’d think it was The End of Times. Argentines have a bizarre relationship with soup. For the most part, it’s a non-entity. In fact, most Argentine cookbooks don’t include soups in them, and I’ve more than once asserted that it’s the only cuisine on the planet without soup. Stews, one-pot meals, […]

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MasterChef Round 3 – The Oxymoron of World Class Lasagna

2015.May.14 Thursday
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Is it my imagination or is the opening montage getting longer? The show itself, diving into episode 3, begins at the 3:45 mark. That’s longer than the Game of Thrones opening sequence. And far less interesting. Apparently feeling the need to “get out in the countryside”, the show takes us to Gral. Rodriguez, a suburban […]

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MasterChef Round 2 – Eggs Benedict? STFU.

2015.May.14 Thursday
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We’re on to Episode 2, and thankfully, unlike the first season, we’re already full on into the competition. Twenty contestants – Diego, Patricia, Sol, Alejo, Matías, Mercedes, Jacinto, Alan, Lia, Francisco, Julia D, Martín, María, Nadia, Juan Pablo, Claudia, Simone, Mariana, Julia N, Sebastián – glare at the camera during the opening montage, each after […]

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Masterchef Returns to Argentina

2015.May.14 Thursday
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[I initially started out writing these reviews for ComoSur, but the site has, unfortunately, had to suspend operations. So, although the first few of these will be a bit behind schedule, I thought I’d move them here to the blog and then get them on track with the show. I also promise to cut down […]

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Bite Marks #16

2015.May.13 Wednesday
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You may vaguely remember my mentioning Coya, Tucumán 874 in Centro, in regard to my search for a great ajiaco con conejo, or “chili rabbit”. I’ve continued to stop by now and again to see if they actually have the dish available – they haven’t. They’ve continued to use my photo of the dish from […]

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Medley of Small Plates

2015.May.11 Monday
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The owner’s idea – bring the relaxed ambiance of a Croatian island paradise in the Mediterranean to the heart of Palermo. Without Croatian food, nor drink. Instead, a laidback style of small plate eating – not quite tapas – somewhat like the “grazing” trend that took place in Europe and North America two decades ago, […]

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